The Salvation Army is looking for individuals and groups to "adopt" a family this Christmas.
The Adopt-a-Family programme, which has been operating for six years, pairs up donors and recipients.
Lieutenant Colonel Wilfred Arnold said the Salvation Army works with people for whom the current economic climate means that "sometimes the ends just don't meet", especially around times like Christmas.
"The expectation at Christmas time is that you buy gifts and put a special meal on the table," which can prove to be a big ask for some families, said Colonel Arnold.
He said the Salvation Army last year matched around 65 donor groups with individuals and families. Donors range from office groups, ward staff at Waikato Hospital, to individuals and families. Donors can choose to be matched with a small or large family or an individual.
Donors are asked to provide either a food voucher or a hamper of food items adequate to prepare a delicious Christmas meal and can include special treats such as Christmas cake, chips, nuts and lollies. They are also asked to choose a small gift for each person, especially the children.
A week prior to Christmas donors drop off the goods at the Salvation Army and the recipients come in another day to collect their goodies, so the process is completely anonymous.
Colonel Alfred said around 300 people were recipients last year. He estimates there may be a few more this year given the redundancies at Huntly coal mine. "The reality for many families this year is that it could be their first without employment."
The Salvation Army's food bank distributes, on average, $7000 worth of food and grocery items each month. That figure peaks in January each year with around $10,000 worth of food stuffs being distributed. Most of what is distributed has been donated by the community.
"The community in Hamilton is just amazing," said Colonel Alfred. "Last year we were inundated with people calling to say they had forgone their Christmas party and instead everyone had chipped in to put together food parcels."
The food bank always needs donations of "the basics" - rice, pasta, flour, sugar, milk powder, washing powder, toilet rolls, baked beans and spaghetti, for example.
Food bank donations can be dropped off at the Salvation Army, 99 London St, Monday to Friday 8.30am-5pm.
If you are interested in becoming a donor for the Adopt-a-Family programme, contact Cairine Barton on 834-7000 or email email@example.com.